July 29, 2021


Constructor: Enrique Henestroza Anguiano

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
IN YOUR PRIME (19A: At the peak of life)
FAIR AND SQUARE (36A: Without cheating)
ISN'T THAT ODD (55A: "Rather curious, don't you think?")

Theme synopsis: The last word of each EXPRESSION used as a theme answer can be used to describe a type of number. We have PRIME numbers, SQUARE numbers, and ODD numbers.

Things I learned:
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • FAIR AND SQUARE (36A: Without cheating) As a phrase, "FAIR AND SQUARE," has been in use since the 1600s. The earliest known written use of the phrase is a 1604 essay by Francis Bacon. The word SQUARE in the phrase does not refer to SQUARE numbers, or to a SQUARE shape. Rather, the word SQUARE is used here to mean honest and straight forward; in other words, FAIR. 
  • NOVELS (41A: Toni Morrison creations) Toni Morrison is the author of 11 NOVELS. Her first NOVEL, The Bluest Eye, was published in 1977. Her last novel, God Help the Child, was published in 2015. Her 1987 NOVEL, Beloved, won a Pulitzer Prize. 
  • RERUN (52A: Episode that generates residuals) Residuals is the term used for the financial compensation actors, directors, and others in the entertainment industry receive when a RERUN of a TV show or movie airs. Calculation of residuals is done by the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), and can be complex. Fun Fact: Actor Jeff Cohen once received a residual check of 67 cents for appearing in one Facts of Life episode. 
  • OTOE (62A: Great Plains Tribe) The OTOE tribe were historically a semi-nomadic people that lived along the Missouri River in the Great Plains. Today the OTOE people are part of the OTOE-Missouria Tribe, which has its headquarters in Red Rock, Oklahoma.
  • NIKE (65A: "Just Do It" brand) NIKE launched its "Just Do It" campaign in 1988. The phrase was coined in an advertising meeting, and resulted in a highly successful advertising campaign. 
  • OLDS (66A: Poet Sharon) I first learned about Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, Sharon OLDS from the September 15, 2020 puzzle. Her 2016 collection of poetry, Odes, contains odes to the female reproductive system, stretch marks, whiskers, and a composting toilet (among other things).
  • LAPIS (6D: (___ lazuli (blue gemstone)) Unlike some gems that are minerals, LAPIS lazuli is a metamorphic rock composed of multiple minerals. Its blue color is mostly due to the presence of a blue silicate mineral, lazurite. 
  • MANN (29D: Singer Aimee) Singer and songwriter Aimee MANN was named one of "The Best Living Songwriters" by NPR in 2006. 
  • RSVP (34D: Respond to the host) This was a clever clue that initially stumped me and then elicited an "Aha!" It was fun to see a similar clue just moments later with ANSWERED (37D: Responded).
  • QED (38D: Initials in a math proof) QED is an initialism for the Latin phrase "quod erat demonstratum," that means "what was to be shown." QED is placed at the end of mathematical proofs to show completion.
  • SUDOKU (47D: Logic puzzle originally called "Number Place") This is a fun fact about the number puzzle, SUDOKU. "Number Place" would be a logical name for SUDOKU, as the goal of the puzzle is to correctly place numbers in their place in a 9x9 grid. 
  • HE'S (58D: Sister Sledge hit "___ the Greatest Dancer") "HE'S the Greatest Dancer" is a 1979 song by Sister Sledge. In 2017, the song was number 66 on Billboard's 2017 list of the "100 Greatest Girl Group Songs of All Time."
Geography review:
  • RENO (15A: Nevada city home to Topsy the Clown) Topsy the Clown is 127 feet tall and weighs 44.8 tons. Topsy is on the neon sign for Circus Circus hotel and casino in RENO, Nevada, where he has resided since 1978. 
  • KENYAN (3D: Nairobi resident) Nairobi is the capital and largest city of Kenya, a country in Eastern Africa.
  • TABASCO (40D: Sauce that shares its name with a Mexican state) TABASCO is one of Mexico's 32 states. It is located in southeast Mexico, on the Gulf of Mexico. TABASCO sauce is a brand of hot sauce produced by the McIlhenny Company of Louisiana.
How about some math with your word puzzle today? I enjoy math and numbers, and so when I saw the title NUMERICAL EXPRESSIONS, I looked forward to some number fun, and I was not disappointed. The theme answers today are all delightful EXPRESSIONS in their own right - IN YOUR PRIME, FAIR AND SQUARE, ISN'T THAT ODD? - all lovely. I appreciated that the words PRIME, SQUARE, and ODD are not used to refer to numbers in these expressions, so their meaning is changed when they are paired with the word "number." And for those that appreciate math, it's fun to note that no single number is PRIME, SQUARE, and ODD. Given the mathematical theme, I appreciated the additional number and math related content in the puzzle: TEN, SUDOKU, QED. This puzzle was a fantastic way to begin my Thursday.


  1. Another layer of the theme that is super cool, is that the number of each theme answer fits the category of number it describes. 19 is a PRIME number, 36 is a SQUARE, and 55 is an ODD number. Hats off to Enrique for that added touch!


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